First, the headline:
You see atop your News Feed the most popular posts from the accounts you follow -- what your friends have been liking and commenting on recently.
As TechCrunch pointed out in a post from April, several factors go into this ranking:
1. How regularly you interact with the original poster. If you connect with the poster often, their posts will rank higher.
2. How many comments are already on the post from your friends. (Likes count for a bit less.)
3. How old the post is.
What does that mean for you, in trying to get engagement on a Facebook post? Here's what I discovered when I was running social media for a Fortune Fifty company:
1. We needed to time our posts well. The clock is ticking, and if you post in a slow time, your post might never get traction. Don't post early in the morning. I found the best time to post was prime time -- from 8-10 p.m. -- or in mid-afternoon. This post from Mashable plots out good posting times. As the graph shows, you really shouldn't post from 10 p.m. to 10 a.m. That might seem obvious, but many businesses post early in the morning, then leave their Facebook work at the office, missing key evening opportunities.
UPDATE: Facebook posts receive 50% of their Likes in the first 80 minutes, a study from social marketing company Visibli shows. So post at the wrong time, and you'll miss a lot of engagement.
2. We needed to aim for either a lot of likes or a lot of comments. We would regular post something akin to: Give is a "like" if you're ready for some football! Or we would post: What is your favorite football team? The two posts are quite different in the reactions they seek.
3. We needed our engagement posts to be succinct. The examples above are "grabbers" that immediately tell the reader what to do. If the call to action is in the third sentence, you won't get much interaction.
4. An engagement post needs to be about the Facebook fan, not your company. Imagine asking someone: How do I look? The answer is often: Great! Now imagine asking them: What have you been up to today? The answer is much longer. We got great engagement when we asked things like: What kind of grill do you have, and how do you like it?
A traditional marketer might ask, Why use strategy to get a lot of impressions and comments on a conversational post about our customers? You're not selling anything. Precisely. You're taking part in your customers' lives. You're giving them a chance to like something or comment on something. When Facebook fans log on and see your business is one of the most popular things in their News Feed, they think of you in a different way: Relevant.